One of the more intriguing games on Championship Sunday will be the Boys Division 2 final.
South sectional champ Canton has been a rumbling freight train all season long, Our preseason #1 in Massachusetts Division 2 hockey comes into this game with a 24-0-1 overall record. The Bulldogs have outscored four post-season opponents by a 23-1 margin.
North champ Tewksbury (17-4-3), on the other hand, came into the post-season as the seventh seed in the North sectional, and went overtime to prevail in both the first and quarterfinal rounds.
Game time on Sunday is 3:15 pm at TD Garden.
In the North title game, the Redmen knocked off Boston Latin 6-4, a team they lost to twice during the season, And, the same Boston Latin team that is responsible for the only blemish on Canton’s record, a 2-2 tie at the Joe Quinn Memorial Tournament on February 19.
Boston Latin coach Frank Woods gave us his insight on the two teams.
“Both teams are similar in that they are extremely well coached and disciplined, and play hard for all three periods,” Woods said. “Canton is a heavy forecheck team that is relentlesss with several skilled players up front and can hurt you with all three lines. They transition very well from defense to offense and like to get out on the rush.
Tewksbury is very solid through the neutral zone and will look to slow things down through center ice and will also be aggressive at their defensive blue line. They are a good D zone coverage team and will block a lot of shots.”
Blocking a lot of shots could come in handy for the Redmen, as Canton is blessed with a plethora of talent up front.
Leading the group are senior Ryan Nolte (31-35-66) and junior Johnny Hagan (18-30-48), as dynamic an offensive duo as there is in the state. Juniors Chris Lavoie (27 pts) and Timmy Kelleher (21 pts) also have been key contributors.
Coach Brian Shuman’s defense, which has allowed just 21 goals all season, also gets involved offensively. Juniors Jack Connolly (24 pts) and Owen Lehane (14 pts) along with senior Matt Martin and junior Ronan O’Mahony form the nucleus of a solid group in front of senior goalie Mike Staffiere.
“What makes Canton so tough is their depth with 5-6 D and three lines that all contribute and that are dangerous,” Woods said. “They have two highly-skilled forwards in Nolte and Hagan who are as good as any players in the state and they are extremely well-coached. They play with tremendous pace and effort and pressure teams in all three zones.”
The Redmen, unbeaten in their last eight games (6-0-2), feature a nice blend of veteran players and young talent that meshes well.
Sophomore William O’Keefe (23-9-32), junior Campbell Pierce (10-16-26) and senior Kyle Lombardo drive an offensive attack that also features senior Aaron Scott (17 pts), freshman Jason Cooke (17 pts) and junior Kyle Morris (16 pts).
Coach Derek Doherty’s veteran blue corps is anchored by seniors Michael Arsenault (18 pts), Robert Casey and Ben Bieren. Junior Patrick Letourneau will get the call in the nets.
“Tewksbury needs to continue to be effective on their penalty kill which has been tremendous this post-season,” Woods said. “I also think they need to keep the game close early. Canton can strike quickly and has won many of their games in the first period by overwhelming teams. Tewksbury is comfortable playing tight games that are decided late in the third period so if they can get Canton into the third and still be close they will have a chance.”